Great American Taxi
Streets of Gold
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2007, Volume 14, #5
Written by John Metzger
Mon May 28, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT
Thereís no denying the sonic connection between Great American Taxi and Leftover Salmon. After all, the group was founded by guitarist Vince Herman during Leftover Salmonís hiatus. Not surprisingly, then, Streets of Gold, its debut, begins in a fashion that mirrors the sounds and textures of his better-known outfit. In fact, the first three songs on the endeavor ó the title track, Ride, and the traditional Lazy John ó seem to go out of their way to bind the bands together.
Just when it appears, however, as if Great American Taxi is about to spend the rest of Streets of Gold running through material that was deemed inferior for Leftover Salmonís consumption, along comes Appalachian Soul, a powerfully moving tale about the environmental and economic devastation that has been wreaked upon a small-town community at the hands of the strip-mining industry. While the tune owes a tremendous debt to The Band, it also is bent around a southern rock motif Š la Little Feat, and this subtle twist gives Great American Taxi enough leverage to transform the song into something that it can call its own. No matter how many times the album is heard, itís on this track that the group hits its stride.
With its galloping beat as well as its tangle of acoustic, electric, and pedal steel guitars, the subsequent Straw Man stakes its claim to terrain that falls somewhere between New Riders of the Purple Sage and Widespread Panic, while a cover of Lumpy, Beanpole & Dirt finds Great American Taxi fully embracing Little Featís distinctive brand of brawling blues. Elsewhere, the ensemble delves into island grooves (Kali) and Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired country-rock (Cinched Up), and the heavy guitar that circles through New Direction is reminiscent of Steve Earleís psychedelic twang. Granted, there are only a few moments on Streets of Gold that fall outside the purview of Leftover Salmon, but in peeling back the layers on his other bandís polyethnic, cajun slamgrass, Herman, strangely enough, has wound up with one of the more eclectic outings within his canon.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box